Some of the most popular London restaurants can be found within top London hotels and one of the finest London hotels, The Westbury in Mayfair, has a rather good restaurant hidden behind the lobby. Artisan Restaurant has not made it on to the trendy London hotel restaurant list and probably never will, but that is not a bad thing. It is peaceful, professional and welcoming, and on the Thursday night I dined there, had a good sprinkling of young and old and families and friends, creating an atmosphere that was most definitely smart but not stuffy.
The staff are all smiley and friendly without crossing the line. They know their menu inside out. Running front of house is Ricardo Mimoso, the restaurant manager. He told me that the restaurant had been refurbished 18 months ago and that business was still good, despite the economic downturn. Judging by the hotel guests floating in and out of the reception area, there was no shortage of cash in this establishment.
Artisan restaurant is certainly not cheap, but I felt that it was fairly priced given the quality of the food and the surroundings. Head Chef Andrew Jones prepares a regularly changing menu that takes advantage of the freshest local produce and creates dishes that tease the eye and water the palate. Expect to pay around £15 for a starter and between £20 and £30 for a main course. Amuse bouches and palate cleansers between courses add value to the experience and help justify the prices.
Having just returned from a trip to South West France, I was keen to see how the Foie Gras starter stacked up against the excellent local French version and so I went for the Terrine of Vendee Foie Gras garnished with 70% Guanaja chocolate crisps and marinated anchovies (£14.50). The Foie itself was very good but the dish was a little disappointing. I just didn't feel that the chocolate and anchovies went together well. I probably should have gone with the Seared Foie Gras starter instead.
Louise Gordon, the Sommelier, recommended some fantastic wines to accompany our choices including a Marlborough Riesling 2007 that went very well with my Foie Gras starter. The wine list is huge, regularly changing, with something for everyone. There are around 10 wines of each colour by the glas and hundreds of bottles of wine. Expect to pay around £40 or more for something decent.
We finished with cheeses, all British, from the huge cheese trolley. I wasn't tempted by the puddings (all priced at £7.50) although I will try the Roasted fig and blackberry Pávlova with Crème de Mûre sorbet next time I come to visit.
I really enjoyed dining at Artisan. The service was so slick and the food presentation and quality so good that it felt like a real treat to be eating here. I would probably book again on a Friday or Saturday night, when it is bound to be a little busier.
Highly recommended for a smart meal.
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